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An Innoholic

An Innoholic

| On 07, Mar 2008

Praveen Gupta

I met Wayne Rothschild about three years ago at a Kellogg Innovation Network meeting. We both were consultants and were looking around for contacts. We connected. He told me had 55 patents and I had just completed development of innovation framework. I wanted to network with him to validate my innovation framework, and he wanted some value through collaboration. We came to know each other better, and collaborated.

Searching for a topic for this column, I thought let me give him a call and see what he was up to. I knew he had developed a product that he has been aggressively marketing. I asked for an interview, and Wayne graciously granted. Here is what I learned.

Wayne Rothschild, President and Founder of Neat-Oh! International, LLC ( is an accomplished senior executive, businessman and engineer. He has consistently invented highly successful breakthrough products that have caused dramatic changes to industries. As a kid, he had a goal to have one patent. Once he started working for Craft he worked towards getting his first patent. After getting his first patent, he right away set his eyes on getting ten patents. It took him 27 years to get his first 10 patents, but another six years to receive his 50th patent. Wayne was becoming addicted to innovation and patents.

With all the years of experience, Wayne recognized that foundational patents are lot more valuable. He recited that the purpose of filing a patent is to gain limited benefit from ones patents, and then educate the world about the new knowledge. Wayne says that his desire to solve problems in unique ways drives him to be innoholic, who is always intoxicated by innovative thinking. He learned that more distinct the solution the higher price the solution commands. 

Wayne has benefitted from his innovation experience directly and indirectly. Working in a large corporation, the direct benefits are minimal of ones innovation. Wayne says it is understandable because organizations transform a new mouse trap into cash. Simply designing a new mousetrap is not enough. It takes resources to generate sales.

A high tech innovator, now running a toy company, Wayne is amazed at his own innovation journey. He used his prior knowledge, but end up developing a low tech solution. The joy comes from solving an age old problem of cleaning up after playing toys, putting the toys in the toy box. So, his son, Max and Wayne designed toy boxes that become toys themselves, eliminating the need for putting them back in the toy box. He has already helped his son get a jump start by having a patent at the tender age of ten years!

After making his toy reproducible, Wayne had an option of selling toys at a large volume by selling his patent to a larger toy manufacturer, or continuing with low volume by selling himself. According to Wayne, once a large company buys or licenses it, a manager is assigned who has no personal interest, and if the toy does not work it would be canned. But by building his own business, setting his sales channels, dealing with customers, and selling at a low price he sells the products over a longer period of time. Recently, he sold his first millionth toy.  That’s an innovation!

So, what is the lesson learned? According to Wayne Rothschild, innovate but focus on commercialization. In other words not only innovate what customer may love to have, but also push its sales passionately. Otherwise, it would be no fun!

Have you worked on a successful innovation, or with the innovator who has been able to make his creative solution sell well? Tell us about it. I am sure readers would love to hear about it world over.